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Criticism from resolution leads to ASUNM to post copy

Several University students and Albuquerque citizens voiced their criticism of Resolution 6S, which passed unanimously at ASUNM’s March 4 meeting, and urges University administration to state their “opposition of Islamophobia, and related hate crimes.”

“Any resolution that seeks to silence political opposition is, fundamentally, an affront to the freedom of speech and expression that has formed a cornerstone of our nation since its inception,” read one letter to The Daily Lobo.

However, the backlash may have simply been a byproduct of bad timing.

ASUNM has received emails and phone calls by the dozens to both the governing body and University Communication and Marketing, requesting to see a copy of the resolution, according to ASUNM Director of Communications David Ishmael.

ASUNM President Rachel Williams said the request would have been fulfilled much earlier, but spring break made for a logistically awkward situation. As a result, those who had wanted to see the text of the resolution were unable to for a time.

Williams signed the resolution on March 6, making it official, and that’s when the backlash started coming in, a trickle at first, then a roar.

“It’s just a fundamental problem,” she said. “A lot of the comments are critiquing certain issues in the world today, but they are misguided in the fact that they are not what this particular resolution is about.”

Ishmael said the last time ASUNM felt compelled to address criticism of a passed resolution was last spring, when there was heated debate over a resolution calling for the University “to stop investments in companies involved in human rights violations,” according to The Daily Lobo.

“It’s not that regular. Typically, unless resolutions are mandated that they are posted online, we don’t do it,” he said. “The president or vice president may request the director of communications to put it up since he or she is usually the webmaster. Literally that is the only protocol.”

Ishmael said they are working to change the procedure so that all legislation is visible on the ASUNM website following meetings. Such changes are only a fraction of an ongoing effort by ASUNM to improve transparency with their constituents.

ASUNM Vice President Jenna Hagengruber said she spent time on Monday, calling people back to talk to them about the resolution, as well as emailing the full text to those simply asking for it. But she said some haven’t been as cordial.

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“There are a few that are throwing in some name-calling, saying that we’re bigots and we shouldn’t be allowed to pass Islam as a religion, which isn’t even what this is about,” she said.

Hagengruber said when she sees where people are forming their opinion; it’s easy to see what they are frustrated about. But lack of access to the resolution and place to speak for 12 days, has left people uninformed.

“In context with what we passed, it has no relation whatsoever,” she said.

Hagengruber emphasized the portion of the resolution stating ASUNM’s support and respect for all religions, saying that the focus was on Islam because it is such a heated topic all around the world today, with attacks on Muslims occurring both domestically and abroad.

She acknowledged that the debate should end up being a learning experience for everyone involved – including ASUNM.

“Transparency is always something that can be improved upon, but maybe we can get this out on more levels and cover more bases than just our website so that people can read the actual text,” she said.

Williams took it one step further, and said she’s confident the situation will prove to be positive in the long run – once the resolution is out there.

“I ask that people read it and be mindful of its purpose. Our students all are entitled to the same respect and the same access to education and the same right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” she said. “The resolution is doing 100 percent what it is meant to have done.”

Williams, said critics should also heed the portion of the resolution which states “the University should cherish and celebrate the diversity that is experienced on campus.” the first and most binding clause of the resolution’s intent.

She said that ultimately the discussion is a necessary one for UNM’s students.

“I want to make this a positive conversation. Whether you initially start out opposed to the resolutions or you’re on the side of respecting all people...I want to continue that dialogue,” she said.

The resolution states “the University should stand strong in opposition of Islamophobia, and related hate crimes, and promote the well-being and safety of its students.” That is the clause Hagengruber says people should pay the most attention to.

“If you read the resolution, nowhere in it does it say we think all students should follow the beliefs of Islam. It just says that we want to support our students and make sure they’re safe,” she said. “And it doesn’t matter what type of student you are.”

Williams said she expects posting the resolution will change some perspectives, and, as a result, decrease the backlash.

“I think people’s opinions are validated, so I wasn’t shocked that people had those negative opinions. But had the resolution been put out and they read it, I would have been surprised,” she said.

David Lynch is a staff reporter at The Daily Lobo. He can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter@RealDavidLynch.

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